Of the four species of gnatcatchers found in North America, two are regularly seen here on the Baja California Sur, and the other two make the rare occasional visit. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea, and the California Gnatcatcher, Polioptila californica, are commonly seen in many of the arid scrub areas, especially if there is any water in the vicinity.


Here are a couple of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers to go along with the lead photo

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1)



Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2)


The Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Polioptila melanura, and the Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Polioptila nigriceps, while not really considered residents of the Baja, are seen several times a year, especially in the extreme southern region, near Cabo Pulmo.

Here is a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. I picked this image as it clearly shows the tail pattern under the tail.

Blacktailed Gnatcacther (5)

And here is a Black-capped Gnatcatcher


Black-capped Gnatcatcher

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is with out doubt the most widely found of the species, but the California Gnatcatcher is the most recognized. Many years of studies, and research on this species has found it to be residing on the much coveted Southern California coastal real-estate. The conflict between the property developers and the vast number of groups looking to preserve that same high dollar property has led to huge amounts of reports being submitted in support of both sides. The quality of these reports has also varied greatly, but none the less, have provided the northern most subspecies Polioptila californica to be listed as a “Threatened Species”. One report I recently read, extolled this tiny bird for its ability to stop bulldozers in their very tracks!

The male California Gnatcatcher

California Gnatcatcher (1)

A female California Gnatcatcher


California Gnatcatcher (3)

A truly small bird, 4 to 4 1/2 inches, these little gray bundles of energy never seem to have an off switch. I frequently see them during my travels in and around the coastal scrub, but rarely ever get a good photo of them, as they just don’t stop moving. Last Sunday, a couple of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers actually slowed down, took a breather and allowed me to get a couple of very nice images. I am pretty sure that they were effected by the desert heat as much as I was.

This photo clearly shows the tail pattern of the California Gnatcatcher

California Gnatcatcher (2)

Written by Tom Brown
Tom Brown grew up in the high desert area of central Oregon. His love for birds and photography started at a young age. Thru the course of time, travel, and a lot of different occupations, he ended up living in Seattle, and met a girl with a sailboat. When he is not scouring whatever area they are in, looking for the next great bird photo, he can be found trying to earn enough money for the next adventure, and of course, a new lens or camera body! Having been nick-named “The Bird Nerd” by his last remaining friends and family, Tom continues search for that next lifer, and the accompanying photo that goes with it. Find his continuing adventures, photographs, and guiding opportunities at Focus on Feathers.